INSIDE BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY
New Episcopal catechism helps members understand evolution
A Binghamton University scientist helped to write an Episcopal Church catechism dedicated to evolution that has received international acclaim.
Sandra Michael, distinguished service professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, is one of four authors of A Catechism of Creation, which won the Polly Bond Award of Excellence from a group called Episcopal Communicators.
Michael, who holds a doctorate in genetics from the University of California at Davis, studies the endocrinology and immunology of female reproduction. Evolution has been a long-term interest of hers, and she has taught courses on the topic during her more than 30 years at the University.
“There’s a real academic core to this,” she said of her work with the Episcopal Church.
The 45-page catechism, which follows the traditional question-and-answer format, is designed to help readers better understand their own religion. The authors kept it simple and straightforward, accessible to young people as well as adult education groups.
“We wanted people to know that you can be a person of faith and still support good science and you can be a scientist and still be a person of faith,” Michael said. “There is a misconception that if you are a person of faith you cannot believe in evolution.”
Michael is a member of the vestry at Trinity Memorial Church in Binghamton and served as a deputy to the national church’s triennial legislative convention, held this summer in Ohio.
She’s the convener of the Episcopal Network for Science, Technology and Faith and a member of the national executive council’s Science, Technology and Faith Committee. Michael was also recently elected to a six-year term on the General Board of Examining Chaplains, a national group that prepares Episcopal ordination exams. She’s a former member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion Advisory Board.
A Catechism of Creation is the latest major undertaking of the Science, Technology and Faith Committee, which has tackled issues ranging from genetically modified food to stem-cell research. It also recently published a pamphlet titled A Lay Guide to Good Science.